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Toytem_5

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Toytem
2009

72” x 84” x 82"
Toys, electronics

Installed in the Hall of Invention at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, Toytem exemplifies the spirit of "circuit bending." Three electronic learning toys have been disemboweled and their circuits reconfigured to create an interactive sound and light sculpture. Toytem plays on the word “Totem,” which is often used to refer to tall wooden poles with carved spiritual figures stacked up their length, largely associated with the tribes of the American Northwest. Cultural imagery in contemporary American society has shifted from a cult of nature to a cult of prepackaged and mass-produced iconography, epitomized by the toy industry. The three central towers of plastic toy parts twinkle with LEDs like that other nature icon that has lost its spiritual underpinnings: the Christmas tree. Recent countercultural movements of circuit bending and toy hacking seek to reimagine the industrial effluence as something more individualized and personalized.

             
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